Objective: To provide estimates of the growth in out-of-pocket (OOP) medical expenditures for persons with arthritis.
Methods: OOP medical expenditures were estimated for 1998-2004 based on 7 panels of the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, which provide nationally representative data. A simple simulation then extrapolated the data through 2006, for which the potential effects of Medicare Part D drug coverage were computed.
Results: Median total OOP expenditures for persons with arthritis showed an increase of 52.4% between 1998 and 2004 (7.3% annually beyond inflation). Median OOP expenditures for prescription medication showed larger growth, at 72.0%. Medicare Part D was predicted to lower both total and prescription OOP expenditures and return them close to 2003 levels. Simulation limitations included exclusive use of the standard Medicare Part D benefit structure and the assumption of stable prescribing trends during this period.
Conclusion: High prescription drug expenditures are likely to continue to be an issue, both for individuals faced with increasing OOP burden and for policy makers faced with increasing budgetary shortfalls to fund increasing Medicare expenses.